April 16th, 2023
We confess in the Nicene Creed that God is the “maker of heaven and earth, of all things, visible and invisible.” His creation is both visible and invisible.
It’s helpful to distinguish what is invisible from what is unseen. The invention of microscopes, telescopes, ultrasound and x-ray machines, and CT and MRI scans, has allowed us to see what was hitherto unseen. Your femur bone and the rings of Saturn are not invisible. They are unseen. Technology has allowed us to see more and more of God’s visible creation.
We must not conclude, however, that all that exists is what can be observed, or potentially observed. Technology has allowed greater observation, but God created all things, visible and invisible. His invisible creation cannot be observed by better technology, because it’s not simply unseen, but invisible.
We confess that there is more to the world than meets the eye. We may categorize the invisible things as either intelligible or spiritual. There are intelligible aspects of God’s creation. For example, there is an invisible order and coherence in what God has made, which is intelligible and beautiful, and when discovered, understood, and applied, is practical and productive. We’re thankful for mathematicians and engineers.
Some invisible things are intelligible. Some invisible things are spiritual. Within God’s creation are invisible powers and principalities, angels and demons, cherubim and seraphim, and Satan. There are times when the invisible, spiritual realm is manifest. It was revealed to Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah and Ezekiel, and Paul and John. But normally this realm is veiled.
Veiled, but present and real and contested, which is why Paul exhorts us: “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Eph 6:10-11). We can stand, because we are strong in Christ.
Standing is the posture of prayer in Scripture. In prayer we are strengthened to stand, which is why Paul calls on us to stay alert and persevere in prayer: “praying at all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18).
Be alert. We are alert to God. In prayer, we draw near the throne of grace. We stand in prayer because we recognize that we’re in God’s presence. In the light of his presence and grace, we recognize the armour he has given us.
In the light of his presence and grace, we see our invisible enemies and stand in the strength of his might, the might of the One who made all things, visible and invisible. They are no threat to him. He made them. We don’t need to be afraid, for he has redeemed us. He stands with us and he is for us:
“If God is for us, who can be against us? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:31, 37-39)